My reputation was on the line. Working on a new business project in a city I haven't been to in a while, I had talked up the fact for my first 2 days in town that I'd been known as "The Restaurant Guy" with my previous employer Pepsi. Now I was in former enemy territory on a project for Coke. My mission this evening, finding a restaurant not too far from the hotel that had more of a local flare, possibly just off the beaten track. We started out with no particular destination in mind. I was in the co-pilot seat with instructions to scout the areas as we drove and to make the decision when to stop and park.
We first headed in the general direction where we had a group cocktail party the evening before at a Sushi restaurant. Going down that main street we passed several places that had groups of people eating outside, but my gut said to venture a little further. We continued down the street for a few more blocks when I mentioned to our driver to take a right turn at the next street. I then looked to the right, left and straight ahead as we drove, when out of my window to the right I saw some colored lights that beckoned out to me. I told the driver to find a place to park. He parked the car, we got out and walked toward the lights. The lights belonged to a Mexican restaurant, but the crowds were down the street at another dining establishment.
Favorite Dish Entire tip couldn't fit on one page, so go to Noisy, but Good Food Part 2
Part 2 because I guess I'm too wordy for just one page. Got an error message that I had exceeded my character limit in Part 1.
All the tables outside were taken, so we ventured forth into the restaurant and were taken up the stairs to the second level where we took our seats. The first thing I noticed was that the crowd both inside and outside the restaurant were what we use to call and maybe still call YUPPIES (Young Urban Professionals). I didn't take too close of a look, but if I were to guess I would say that I had to be one of the senior members in the establishment that evening. It was very noisy and I was tempted to go back downstairs and wait for a quieter outside seat, but since the hour was getting late for dinner, at least 7:30 p.m. is a late dinner for me, we decided to tough it out.
We were immediately asked if we would like a glass of regular water or bottled water upon being seated. We both chose regular water which appeared moments later. Our server then came by introduced herself to us and explained the menus a bit and asked if we would want something else to drink. I opted to just stay with water (having had a few glasses of wine the night before) and since I had an expense account limit of $30 for dinner didn't want to go too crazy the first night out. While we looked through the menu, a basket for fresh cornbread and biscuits were placed in front of us. I had the cornbread which was very good and don't know why I skipped having the biscuit as I usually enjoy fresh breads, etc before a meal. Since we were in the South and this was the South City Kitchen I ordered shrimp and grits which I had failed to order 2 years before when my and I were last in the south, 2 years ago in Charleston, SC. My fellow consultant ordered some she crab soup and the fish special of the day.
Favorite Dish The dinners were brought out very promptly and within ten minutes we had both cleaned our plates. Mine was actually in a large bowl, but you get the point. The shrimp and grits had a hint of garlic and was accompanied with bits of poblano peppers and tasso ham along with some extremely creamy smoked tomato gravy. The shrimp were cooked just right with a little bite to them and the grits were probably some of the best I've ever tasted. Since we cleaned our plate and bowl we were entitled to desert which looking over at the next table was very tempting, but again because of expense reasons and probably the first night of many evening dinners on the road to come and because of the noise we opted out of anything else.
The inside of the building has a country house look and feel. On the first floor is an open kitchen with a few bar area seats overlooking it. There are no drapes and exposed wood which doesn't help mute the sound. The chef was being taped when we first entered so I'll have to watch the local news channels to see if he appears. No pictures tonight, but I'm sure I'll go back. 4 stars tonight only because of the noise. Next time we will eat outside.
Whenever possible on business trips, I try to avoid things that I can have at anytime at home. This put me into a bit of quandary of what to do in Atlanta, as technically I also live in the South, so some good old hometown cooking was not something new. There are a few dishes which seem to turn out better here, so we still went for some good old homestyle Southern cooking anyway.
Based on the recommendations, we chose the South City Kitchen, which technically was in Midtown not the South part of the city. The drive was very easy up Peachtree to Midtown, and parking was ample around the area. We were greeted at the door by the restaurant manager/ maitre d. As we were dining on a Monday night, the room was virtually ours to ourselves, and the service was very attentive. Our waiter was knowledgeable on the food choices for the evening, and guided a couple recommendations through very easily. We took his suggestion of the Fried Green Tomatoes as a starter, and enjoyed a delicious home style biscuit while waiting for the appetizer. The tomatoes were delicious with a nice breading, lightly fried, and with a nice tomato sauce that had some tang to it. My co-worker and I both went for the fried chicken, and he opted for a cup of chicken soup first. The fried chicken was great, with a nice crispy skin and breading as well as a nice juicy bite to the meat. It was accompanied with buttermilk mashed potatoes and green beans, although I would recommend ordering one or two of their famous sides to accompany the main meal. I went with the collard greens and cauliflower mac and cheese for a nice home style fare, and both were tasty. The greens had a little spice to them, so I did not have to add hot sauce as I normally do, and the mac and cheese used a great alternative to traditional american or cheddar, although I am not sure I could place which cheese was used. It might have been a Gorgonzola, but I could not be sure. Finally, as if the rest was not enough to set me into a caloric coma, we chose to try the Pecan Pie with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. This was drizzled with a caramel sauce and lived up to the hype of Southern Pecan Pie.
Overall, I can definitely give this place the ultimate seal of approval for me, and will likely come back soon. Don't miss this place!
Favorite Dish Picture #1 - Fried Chicken
Picture #2 - Homemade Buttermilk Biscuit
Picture #3 - Fried Green Tomatoes
Picture #4 - Cauliflower Mac and Cheese
Picture #5 - Pecan Pie with Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
The food in this restaurant exceeded all expectations. I found it by chance and I would have to say that it is the best restaurant I have been to in my travels. Highly recommended (and fairly prices as well).
Favorite Dish Caeser Salad and the vegetarian plate.
South City Kitchen--(Southern with a modern twist) outstanding shrimp & grits!! The Beautiful Restaurant in Sweet Auburn offers home cooking like macaroni & cheese, greens, red velvet cake, and >sweet banana pudding, all washed down with a sweet tea SO sweet it sets your teeth on edge! Cherry is *outstanding* Asian fusion. 10 Degrees South offers South African food, which is an enticing mix of African, Asian, South Asian, and European influences. Try the piri-piri chicken (spicy), boboties, melktert (sort of like a chess pie), or if you're adventurous, ostrich! The atmosphere is relaxing, the South African music is lively, and you can try a South African wine. Anne and Bill's is a great Southern place for lunch--try the 'dirty bird' sandwich with a piece of sweet potato pie. Harold's is a terrific place for barbecue.